Abstract

With greater importance given to the climate change debate, energy has slowly attracted the complete attention of the whole world. As a matter of fact, the main strategies identified by international bodies and institutions aimed at addressing the climatic issues faced by our planet constantly involve energy: both in terms of reducing the use of sources that increase emissions, and in terms of using them more efficiently. The energy sector can be roughly divided into renewable energy, on the one hand, and fossil fuels, on the other. The former category is at the core of all the main international agreements regarding climate change and current environmental concerns: the increasing exploitation of renewable energy sources has become an urgent matter and a possible route to reach this goal is to facilitate trade and exchange in renewable energy goods, services, and technologies, through trade liberalization. Another possible route to achieve the global goal of reducing CO2 emissions and protect the environment requires a diminished use of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. As far as petroleum is concerned, the relevant market is completely controlled by a few actors, gathered in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which set prices and quotas as they please. It is clear from this picture that a central and fundamental role is played by international trade rules. Trade liberalization in renewable energy needs to be consistent with international trade rules, and so do OPEC’s practices. As we will see in section 2, energy is not explicitly covered by the Agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which makes interpretation of this sector extremely important. Section 3 focuses on the possibility to use and interpret WTO Agreements in favor of the deployment and diffusion of renewable energies, in order to contribute to mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. Measures supporting this form of energy are often considered to be inconsistent with WTO rules. This is because the exceptions that would allow the WTO system to justify such measures are usually applied in a textualist manner. After displaying the main provisions and the existing case law, we will draw some conclusions on the possibility of an evolving interpretation thereof, allowing smoother and easier trade in renewable energy. Section 4 will then argue OPEC’s production quotas compliance with the rules and principles established by the WTO. As a matter of fact, international institutions and agreements — such as the WTO and its framework — are designed to provide the stability and predictability necessary for economic growth, and OPEC’s monopoly and control over oil prices undermines the stability and transparency of the market for oil. Challenging such monopoly is necessary to level the playing field where all energy sources compete. In particular, as OPEC’s production quotas are here questioned, a WTO dispute involving quotas will be used for comparison.
Full Paper
Paolo Davide Farah
Founder, President and Director
Elena Cima
Research Associate

Summary

With greater importance given to the climate change debate, energy has slowly attracted the complete attention of the whole world. As a matter of fact, the main strategies identified by international bodies and institutions aimed at addressing the climatic issues faced by our planet constantly involve energy: both in terms of reducing the use of sources that increase emissions, and in terms of using them more efficiently. The energy sector can be roughly divided into renewable energy, on the one hand, and fossil fuels, on the other. The former category is at the core of all the main international agreements regarding climate change and current environmental concerns: the increasing exploitation of renewable energy sources has become an urgent matter and a possible route to reach this goal is to facilitate trade and exchange in renewable energy goods, services, and technologies, through trade liberalization. Another possible route to achieve the global goal of reducing CO2 emissions and protect the environment requires a diminished use of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. As far as petroleum is concerned, the relevant market is completely controlled by a few actors, gathered in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which set prices and quotas as they please. It is clear from this picture that a central and fundamental role is played by international trade rules. Trade liberalization in renewable energy needs to be consistent with international trade rules, and so do OPEC’s practices. As we will see in section 2, energy is not explicitly covered by the Agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which makes interpretation of this sector extremely important. Section 3 focuses on the possibility to use and interpret WTO Agreements in favor of the deployment and diffusion of renewable energies, in order to contribute to mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. Measures supporting this form of energy are often considered to be inconsistent with WTO rules. This is because the exceptions that would allow the WTO system to justify such measures are usually applied in a textualist manner. After displaying the main provisions and the existing case law, we will draw some conclusions on the possibility of an evolving interpretation thereof, allowing smoother and easier trade in renewable energy. Section 4 will then argue OPEC’s production quotas compliance with the rules and principles established by the WTO. As a matter of fact, international institutions and agreements — such as the WTO and its framework — are designed to provide the stability and predictability necessary for economic growth, and OPEC’s monopoly and control over oil prices undermines the stability and transparency of the market for oil. Challenging such monopoly is necessary to level the playing field where all energy sources compete. In particular, as OPEC’s production quotas are here questioned, a WTO dispute involving quotas will be used for comparison.

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The growth in green energy investments worldwide is an important reality and rising trends are to be expected in the future. When designing the proper policy agenda for renewable energy investments, we must take into consideration the legal, regulatory and political frameworks in both developing and developed countries. gLAWcal aims at analyzing national approaches on the matter, combining scientific, social and economic considerations. At the same time, it wishes to develop partnerships among European and non-European institutions, so as to deliver an integrated approach on sustainable energy investments, combining global and local perspectives.
The need to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights by right holders or the resort to practices which unreasonably restrain trade or adversely affect the international transfer of technology are topical issues that affects international relations. It is crucial for developing countries to achieve a substantive degree of IPR protection, not only for the promotion of creativity and innovation, but also for the maximization of technology transfer from developed countries. gLAWcal examines IPR regimes and their impact on competition with the objective of providing a better understanding of the competition-dimension of IP rights. Intellectual property rights are also extremely crucial to sustainable development in manifold ways, from the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural products, to access to essential medicines. Our organization focuses on the policy frameworks and institutions shaping debate and policy development in this sector.
In the last fifteen years, all around the world there has been a tendency to put much hope in the rise of civil society, its emergence being welcomed as a sign of progress towards a more democratic system. Many places in the world are today laboratories for change thanks to bottom-up movements supported by civil society organizations. By looking at contentious politics and how they converge and interact with institutional politics, we can better understand what directions a country’s political system and its governance is taking. gLAWcal supports collective forms of actions aimed at the creation of better societies, on many social issues, and in various geographical areas.
Improvements in people’s economic wellbeing have increased citizen demands for a cleaner environment. As societies undergo the transition to industrial development and modernity, their citizens begin to concern themselves with needs and wants beyond the material, including the protection of the environment. However, growing levels of environmental consciousness and awareness are often not matched by proper environmental legislation enforcement at the local level. gLAWcal looks at environmental rights developments in developing countries, and aims at delivering policy advices and capacity building support in areas where law implementation is lacking. With this purpose, our organization seeks to improve environmental protection not only for the benefit of the populations directly affected, but also for the sake of the entire planet.
Globalization, and the consequent international exchange of goods, services, cultures, ideas, has brought increased wealth for many on the one hand, while exerting pressure on core societal values both in developed and developing countries on the other hand. Public opinion and policy makers have warned against the threat posed by international trade and liberalization to policies and measures meant to protect the so-called non-trade concerns (NTC), such as environmental protection, sustainable development, good governance, cultural rights, labour rights, public health, social welfare, national security, food safety, access to knowledge, consumer interests and animal welfare.When trying to protect these issues, developed countries have put into place trade measures that have encountered resistance or dissent in developing countries, being perceived as protectionist actions or as an attempt by the importing countries to impose their social, ethical and cultural values on exporting countries.The challenge of integrating Non-Trade Concerns embodies the willingness to overcome national egoisms and embrace universally a number of fundamental values, creating an ethical and juridical platform to win over cultural differences and issues of national sovereignty. gLAWcal’s research aims at identifying ways to protect NTC within international economic law. By shedding new light on developing countries’ trends towards inclusion of NTC in the domestic and international arena, gLAWcal provides a comprehensive perspective on law enforcement, creating a bridge between the international and the domestic realities.

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